Kirsty is a foster carer from Dudley who supports twins with autism and was nominated and won an award to take part in Wear it for Autism, an event hosted by a charity promoting the awareness of autism. Kirsty, 27, was nominated for the award because of the exceptional support she provides and the advocacy she has demonstrated on behalf of the autistic girl-boy twins she supports.
She said “I was nominated for the award by the previous foster carer of the twins I foster. They both have autism, in different ways. The little boy is non-verbal and the little girl has mild autism and anxiety. I was nominated because of the support I offer, I was thrilled to then win!”
Kirsty started her career as a nursery nurse, and teaching assistant. She has completed training in Makaton and PECS to support youngsters with communicational special needs and completed a degree in Inclusive Studies and Disabilities. She also gained the Early Years Teaching status.
Autism is a disorder that affects many children, each in a unique way. A diagnosis can happen as early as 2 or 3 depending on signs and symptoms. The condition usually affects communication, behaviour and social skills. Children with autism may not have the same spoken language skills as their peers, and demonstrate limits on the language they use. Communication in other forms such as PECS or Makaton signs and symbols are techniques often used to support children with communication disabilities.
Kirsty met the twins when they attended the Pre-school where she was Deputy Manager. Their foster carer at the time was an older foster carer and the decision was made to find a younger fostering family for the twins.
Kirsty said; “When I knew the twins needed to move, it encouraged me to think about becoming a foster carer. I have developed lots of skills to support children who have autism, just like them. My brother is also autistic, so I already had a lot of experience of autism through living with him. In the back of my mind, I hoped that when I was approved I could foster the twins, and I was delighted when we were matched.”
Kirsty and her partner Martin, 28, support the twins together and offer them the life opportunities, support and care they need. The previous foster carer has stayed in touch and is great support on days out.
Kirsty added: “ Their previous foster carer, Claire, has a fantastic bond with the twins. She had them from 6 months old and she is a really important part of their lives, we regularly meet up an enjoy days out with the twins together”.
For various reasons Kirsty was unable to attend the charity’s London awards ceremony, but she was delighted that the children’s previous foster carer nominated her for the award.
“I am applying all the experience I have gained and going one step further to support children who need the help that I can offer. I’d like to thank ‘Anna Kennedy’, the charity that hosted the fashion show.”
Anna Kennedy is dedicated to promoting the inclusion and equality of children and adults with an autism spectrum condition throughout society. The charity promotes its mission of disability equality by developing and sponsoring training, by raising awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and also by its advocacy efforts with and on behalf of people with an autism spectrum condition.
Foster carers can make a big difference to the lives of children with autism. With training, guidance, support and understanding of autism, foster carers can make a positive impact on the lives of the children they support with autism.
At Capstone we welcome anyone with specialist skills who is thinking of fostering. We also provide specialist training for foster carers who are interested in support children with special needs and challenging behaviours.